Replacing the Modern Language Textbook with QR Codes: The Advantages

In another blog, I argued how textbooks can be replaced with QR codes.  I think that modern language classroom is an ideal place to replace the textbook with QR codes.

The advantages to QR code -based modern language learning:
– With QR codes, teachers can link  to a comprehensive list of vocabulary for a given topic. The teachers can indicate critical vocabulary and useful vocabulary.  Some  textbooks introduce certain fruits in one unit and, then, more fruit in another unit.  Many textbooks have only a partial list of vocabulary for a topic even when it is the only unit for that topical vocabulary.  Many textbooks do not include verbs, adjectives, and typical sentences when they present the  noun vocabulary list  for a topic. The teachers may link to various language apps that not only illustrate the word but show it in English and the target language.
– With QR codes, foreign language  teachers can link to videos that  introduce and review grammar  in diverse ways.  The educators can have QR codes that link to different types of online grammar practice.  The educators are not limited by the textbook’s manner of presenting or reviewing grammar.
– With QR codes, modern language  teachers can link to audio or video files of native speakers who are talking about important topics.  Either the teachers or the students can record the native speakers as they talk about such things as family, eating, weekends. These conversations are authentic conversations, not ones designed to teach a particular grammar point.  Likewise the teachers can link to radio or TV shows from the target area.
– With QR codes, foreign language teachers can link to current or past cultural events in the target language country.  Students can learn about the culture as it happens as opposed to waiting for the textbook to possibly cover it in a future unit. The teachers can use QR codes to show what is happening at this very moment in the target language country.
– With QR codes, the modern language teachers can link to  pictures or videos that serve as speaking prompts or the basis for a conversation.  These same pictures or videos can serve as writing prompts.  The teachers select  target language cultural pictures.  For example, students look at a family having a  Sunday picnic in Tijuana, México.
– With QR codes, the foreign language teachers can link to quick formative assessments that students take in just a few minutes to demonstrate their achievement of some learning goal.
– With QR codes, modern language teachers can link to target language reading such as  the news,  magazine articles, and  literature.  They can have the students read authentic materials.  Students can select which aspect of the news they want to read about  such as  sports, TV, politics, and food.

Why not try a mini-QR code lesson  to see how engaged in the target language the students become?

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (25+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask their  partners a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawings from 2-4 people), Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group), Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs), and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers: http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle. I have a series of modern language visual stories (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students.  These can use in any language since there are just visuals, no words.

My book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, and my book, Formative Assessment, Responding to Students, are available at http://is.gd/tbook

No Basic Differences in Modern Language Textbooks in 50 Years: Go Virtual

I examined two textbooks that are fifty years apart, a Spanish textbook from 1960 and one from 2010

Both:
– Teach the same grammar – present, present irregulars, preterite, preterite irregulars, imperfect, …..
– Teach the same basic vocabulary- family, occupations, house, …. The 2010 textbook does have more modern words such as cell phone, computer…
– Start each lesson with  a written dialogue
– Focus primarily on grammar- almost all the exercises are grammar focused
– Have images – The 1960 has black and white illustrations and the 2010 has many colored photos.
– Include cultural information
– Have dictionaries

Some differences:
–  The  1960 textbook contains 200+ pages while the 2010 textbook has 500+ pages.
– The 1960 has some testing/practice material while the 2010 textbook has  much online grammar practice.
– The 1960 textbook has a story line of a family with a father who travels to Latin America, however, the 2010 does not have a storyline.
– The 1960 textbook teaches practical vocabulary essential to daily living and traveling while the 2010 teaches specialized vocabulary such as words to describe art in a museum.
– The 1960 textbook follows the grammar translation methodology while the 2010 follows the grammar use methodology.

The 2010 textbook, once all the colored photos are removed, is essential the same as the 1960 textbook.  Do modern language teacher still want to focus primarily on grammar instead of communication?

How has the textbook, the staple of most classes, changed over the last 50 years?
– Does it scaffold information to make it easier for students to learn?
– Does it include strategies to help the students better learn the material?
– Does it organize information in a way to help students see similarities and differences?
– Does it build in self tests so students can measure their progress in a formative assessment manner? Does it provide formative feedback?
– Has it gone to the “less is better” with more concentration on critical learning  or has it gone to “the bigger is better” way of thinking?
– Has it incorporated spontaneous speaking or is the speaking still based on teaching grammar?
– Is the vocabulary being taught include verbs and adjectives about the topic instead of just nouns?  Can student talk in depth about a topic?

I’ve written several blogs about textbooks Smartphone (Mobil Learning Apps as Alternative Textbooks)  and Why a Physical Textbook?

Think of creating your own virtual textbook that truly matches the state goals and your district’s goals. Consider using QR codes to create your own textbook.

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (25+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask partner a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawings from 2-4 people), Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group), Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs), and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers: http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle. I have a series of modern language visual stories (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students. Can use in any language since there are just visuals, no words.

My book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, and my book, Formative Assessment, Responding to Students, are available at http://is.gd/tbook